Club de Artesanas

CdA Activities Back on Track

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

Doña Máxima Checking on Cochineal Dye Pot

It took the Club de Artesanas (CdA) members two dye days to attend to the pile of hand spun skeins of wool yarn that had been dropped off by the Huancarani weavers. All had requested cochineal tones, which was a good thing because this dry season is unusually dry and there are few local dye plant options. The municipality is rationing water and the hours it is available grow shorter weekly. Multiple containers were filled in the early mornings to handle the rinsing of the dyed skeins. Because both stovetop burners were not in use it was decided to premordant some of the skeins. On the first dye day alum was the premordant and on the 2nd dye day copper sulfate was used to dye the first batch of skeins a dark burgundy. There is something very satisfying about watching a clothesline full of newly dyed skeins drip drying.

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy and CdA Women Working on Lace Knitting Samples

Amy Booth played hooky from her volunteer work in Cochabamba with Performing Life Bolivia to volunteer in Independencia for a week. She enjoys lace knitting, so Lynne Watterson’s book, “The Very Easy Guide to Lace Knitting” which Dorinda’s Aunt Laura had mailed to the CdA years ago finally came off the shelf. It is now looking much used and loved. Amy worked with the women to knit a variety of samples from the book, and then they all trooped off to a local yarn store so the women could buy yarn to make sleeveless tops using their preferred stitches from the samples. Amy squeezed in 3 weaving classes with Doña Maxima and worked diligently into the wee hours completing her homework.

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Amy´s Weaving Class with Doña Máxima

Although Amy had packed light for her week-long stay, she´d brought along 3 juggling clubs. John Connell, the founder of Performing Life, and volunteers teach circus skills to street kids. The kids use the skills to earn money by juggling at intersections around Cochabamba. The program is expanding to include aerial silks and trapeze and classes will be available for a fee to help subsidize the organization´s other programs. Amy is the second PAZA volunteer who spent years of her youth in a circus training program in London. She found out about Performing Life and PAZA through Sustainable Bolivia, a U.S. foundation in Cochabamba that has supported PAZA´s volunteer program and sales of the weavings since 2010.

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

CdA Kid, Emily, Marching with the 1st Graders

August 6th, is Independence Day in Bolivia and the festivities kick off with a lantern parade the night before. A number of the CdA kids took advantage of the Club’s supplies to make their candle lit lanterns. Luckily, it was a lantern parade because the town’s electricity went off just as the parade started and didn´t resume until a few hours after it ended. The flaming “2016” sign of the graduating class was spectacular, as were the stars on the dark walk home. Everybody was dressed in their best for the official parade on August 6th. Volunteer Joey Hentzler arrived on the bus from Cochabamba during the parade and had no trouble finding Amy and Dorinda in the crowd.

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey and the CdA Kids

Joey worked with the CdA kids teaching them about Día de los Muertos traditions in Mexico. They also used up leftover tissue paper from lantern making to make paper cutouts that were taped to string like prayer flags and taken home to decorate empty walls.

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Everyone Smiled When the Juggling Clubs Came Out

Alas, CdA trainer and weaver, Doña Maxima, was not sitting on pins and needles waiting to update Dorinda on 3-1/2 months of local gossip. In fact, local news is rarely related unless a topic is brought up that triggers a story. It was a bit of a shock while trolling for recent news to hear 2 year old scoop! While discussing the lack of retention of new CdA members, Doña Máxima said a member lasted only 1 year because her husband told her traditional weaving is something that only poor women do! It shouldn´t be a surprise considering that as rapidly changing rural Bolivia “progresses” the locals who now think of themselves as “modern” would spurn anything that might connect them with being old-fashioned. Doña Máxima didn´t appear disturbed about the attitude, her expression conveyed, “what idiots.” She did say that the CdA would probably be more successful in teaching weaving to young teens who live with female relative(s) who are weavers and can help at home.

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Spinning with Joy, Photo Credit: Shelby Deaton

Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Susie Strauss for your ongoing support of the PAZA activities. Thank you George Dutcher for your contribution to the soap making project. The smelly chore of rendering a mix of beef and sheep fat was done last week so the CdA members will be making lovely scented milled soap in the weeks ahead.

Thank you Jere Thompson for your help in getting the word out in our search for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week! We do need to raise funds for this year´s expenses which are estimated at $1,000. That account is currently in the red. Please consider supporting the Team Warmis Phuskadoras by clicking on the Donate button above. Thank you! Dorinda Dutcher, August 19, 2016

July, Back in Independencia!

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

Alison and CdA Women Knitting Rabbit Face Booties

There is no place like home, and after a 3-1/2 month absence it seemed like Paradise to settle back into the PAZA rooms at the Casa Callejas in Independencia. Thanks to Laverne Waddington and the orders she drummed up through her weaving workshops in the U.S., the weavers had stayed busy. Doña Máxima had carried on the Club de Artesanas (CdA) once a week and had managed the orders, but she was relieved that activities would return to normal at the PAZA workshop.

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Alison Teaching the Chicas How to Weave Bracelets

Former volunteer and friend, Alison Walsh, arrived for a 2 week visit in mid-July. She made a sample of a babyt bootie with a rabbit face from a new pattern book in the PAZA library. All the CdA women decided they had a little one for whom they wanted to knit a pair. When Alison wasn´t knitting she was weaving bracelets in bright colors. One Saturday morning the CdA chicas admired the array of bracelets adorning Alison´s arms and asked if she would teach them, which she did immediately. Why haven´t the chicas shown any interest in learning the local traditional weaving techniques? Is it because it´s something grandmother used to do, thus old fashioned and not “cool”?

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

Alison & Doña Máxima Enjoy Campo Hospitality

It’s time to think about prepping the house gardens for summer’s rainy season. Alison and Doña Máxima were game for an adventure, so a truck was hired to head to Doña Gregoria´s farm to buy “fertilizer”. Sheep are corralled every night, and the manure is raked out and piled high outside the corral, where it is allowed to age. There was no way to contact Doña Gregoria, but she hurriedly appeared in answer to the shouted greetings and her frantically barking dogs. Her alpacas and llamas were disappearing from view having been let loose earlier to graze. It´s dry season so they cover a lot of territory each day to feed. Doña Gregoria doesn´t have much company so she talked animatedly to Doña Maxima while serving her unexpected guests steaming plates of boiled potatoes and boiled corn.

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Note the Weavings Used for the Cargo Rigging

Doña Máxima was handed a rope and sent her off in search of a burro to haul the gunny sacks of “fertilizer” up the mountain to the truck. Alison, 5 year old Cristian who is Doña Máxima´s grandson, and Dorinda began filling light-weight plastic gunny sacks they´d brought along. Prior to the appearance of plastic sacks, rural women wove “costales”, gunny sacks, out of llama fiber or local wool. Doña Máxima returned having had no luck in finding the burro.

Fiber or plastic gunny sacks are sewn shut for transport, so women´s sombreros are usually adorned with fake flowers and a large sewing needle or two. Doña Gregoria came out of her courtyard bearing rope halters, cargo padding, and straps. She picked out 2 nearby small horses that she and Doña Máxima quickly captured and loaded with the bags of fertilizer. Weavings are often used as part of the cargo rigging and wrap around under the tail of the horse or burro. The walk back to the truck didn´t look steep, but at the higher altitude the horses´ pace of walk 10 steps then take a break was ideal. Once the bags were loaded on the truck, the horses were let loose to roll and wander off. The humans all plopped in the shade of the pickup to enjoy a campo picnic – a communal pot of rice, potato, and fried eggs.

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Hey Dad, This Is a Lot More Work Than a Trip to Home Depot!

Team registration for Spinzilla Spinning Week took place on Sundays when the Huancarani weavers were in town for market day. Doña Beatriz who is a CdA participant when she´s not farming in her community of Sanipaya confirmed that she and 5 other spinners from Sanipaya wished to participate again. Unfortunately, there has been no response to the request for 2 volunteers for Spinzilla Spinning Week. The team slot for a foreign spinner will be held until the end of August, at which time it will be released to a local spinner. A social media volunteer is still needed in Independencia during the October 2 to 9 Spinning Week plus the 2 additional days to help with measuring the yardage.

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

Doñas Felicidad, Justina, and Toribia Waiting to Measure

The Spinzilla expenses are estimated to run about the same as last year which was $1,005, and those funds must be raised so that the event doesn´t impact other PAZA activities. PAZA has currently raised $0…. HELP?!  All the spinners win first prize to encourage teamwork and to recognize all of them equally for their phenomenal spinning ability. The prize they chose for this year is a new petticoat. The other expenses are vehicle contracts for 4 trips to the rural communities, extra days of wages for Doña Máxima, and the end of the year awards ceremony and feast. Please note on the Paypal form attached to the “Donate” button above that your contribution is for Spinzilla. Thank you from the Spinzilla team Warmis Phuskadoras!  Dorinda Dutcher, August 8, 2016

Rescuing Andean Natural Dye Techniques

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

Tradition Use of Weavings with Synthetic Dyes and Natural Wool Tones

The Huancarani weavers grew up using brightly colored synthetic yarn for weaving and knitting festive wear and cheap easy to use powdered synthetic dyes for dyeing their local wool for colorful blankets. Undyed wool was frequently used for functional products such as woven gunny sacks and ponchos with the variety of natural colors allowing for contrasting stripes and designs. In 2007, the knowledge of natural dye techniques were fading but not lost when they asked Dorinda, a Peace Corps volunteer, if she could help them to rescue their natural dye techniques.

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

Smushing Macha Macha Berries, Huancarani, 2008

The first natural dye workshop in Huancarani took place in mid-March of 2008 and was a collaboration between the municipal government who supplied the transportation and a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) grant that paid the wages for a local woman who was hired as the local natural dye trainer and Doña Máxima who was contracted as the workshop coordinator and translator. The trainer had walked high into the mountains to harvest the macha macha berries for the workshop. Upon arrival in Huancarani the women took off to harvest suyku which was in full bloom. The leaves and flowers were stripped into a second borrowed dye pot. The trainer´s knowledge stemmed from a workshop a non-government agency had provided not from natural dye techniques handed down through generations. She had no knowledge of mordants and added a handful of salt, half a dozen halved limes, and a cup of vinegar to every dye pot. Today, suyku is the favorite local dye plant because of the range of hues the weavers have learned how to achieve through Ph manipulation.

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

1st Suyku Dye Pot Results, Huancarani, 2008

The second dye workshop in Huancarani was the focus of the PCPP grant that paid for the Arte Andino Board of Directors who were all rural weavers to visit Independencia for 3 days of workshops. They brought cochineal for dyeing and alum, iron sulfate, and copper sulfate to teach the mordant process. The Huancarani weavers were intrigued with cochineal having participated in a cochineal workshop, but there had been no follow-up to the 1 day of training and they had no knowledge as to the cultivation of cochineal. It grows in Bolivia on the nopal cactus that resides at lower drier elevations. The mordants used regularly today are alum and millu a local mineral salt. Copper sulfate is used occasionally with plants and citric acid with cochineal for orange tones. Salt and chicha vinegar are also used on occasion.

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

1st Dye Workshop in Chuñavi Chico, 2009

Everyone´s interest in local natural dyes was piqued but Dorinda´s Peace Corps service ended abruptly and a few months later the Peace Corps left Bolivia. Three months later she returned on her own to carry on the natural dye workshops, and continued to call her volunteer efforts PAZA. Although Peace Corps had left a non-profit organization called KURMI had begun working in Independencia funded by a development contract for the empowerment of women. The local government continued to provide transportation to rural communities so that Dorinda, the local trainer and Doña Máxima could offer dye workshops in 5 rural communities. KURMI staff would occasionally participate in a workshop to present topics on women´s rights.

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

Don Jorge Teaching Intensive Course, Independencia 2009

The mordant processes learned from Arte Andino were well practiced and in July of 2009 thanks to the collaboration of the municipal government, KURMI, and PAZA an extraordinary 3 day intensive natural dye workshop was held in Independencia to train local trainers. KURMI brought weavers from other highland communities with whom they worked. The trainer, Don Jorge Gandarillas, had been the Arte Andino natural dye trainer and had over 50 years of experience working with Andean textile revival projects. He was a tough taskmaster and at the end of the course he assigned the participants the task of teaching a dye class in their community and returning in October to share their experience with the group.

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

Group Photo with Results of Don Jorge´s July Workshops, 2009

The group met again in October without the support of the municipal government, and sadly it was the last collaboration in support of the Andean weaving tradition in the municipality. Friendships had formed between the weavers from out of town and the local weavers. Upon meeting again, they exchanged information about their successful and unsuccessful experiments with the plethora of Andean dye plants. Each participant had to role play as a natural dye trainer in front of the class.

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Doña Narciza Role Playing as a Local Natural Dye Training, October 2009

Without municipal government support PAZA couldn´t afford to visit rural communities and has worked only in Huancarani and Independencia since 2010. The local trainer did not attend Don Jorge´s workshops and her lack of interest resulted in Doña Máxima taking over as local trainer. The macha macha berry introduced in the first workshop produces a fugitive dye and hasn´t been used since 2009.  In 2011, KURMI´s development project was not renewed and their office closed.

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Limited Natural Dye Palette, 2008

Through the years the Huancarani and Club de Artesana (CdA) weavers have learned to eyeball their dye pots to make the minute adjustments needed to arrive at the tones they seek for the color coordination of their weavings. The first dye workshop had taken place towards the end of the rainy season when flowers, leaves and berries were at their peak, so it shouldn´t have been such a shock to realize that quick roadside gathering of dye plants wasn’t possible year around.

If called upon, many of the Huancarani weavers and all of the CdA women members could serve as natural dye trainers. The PAZA curriculum for the 5 part progressive natural dye workshop program is waiting in the wings for when collaboration to rescue and preserve the textile heritage of Independencia is once again possible.

Laverne´s May Order

Laverne´s May Order

Thank you Laverne Waddington for your latest weaving order that is keeping Doña Máxima and the weavers in Independencia busy. A hug and thanks to Joyce Dutcher for her contribution to the Dutcher Family Fund that serves as the revolving fund to pay the weavers as soon as they complete an order. Thank you Dorothy Thursby and Nancy Meffe for your long-term support that allows all the PAZA activities to continue day in and day out.

Hallelujah, it´s time to rev up for 2016 Spinzilla! Thank you Marilyn Murphy and Cloth Roads for sponsoring the Team Warmis Phuskadoras for their 3rd annual competition!

I look forward to seeing and/or meeting all of you who will be attending the WARP Conference and/or Santa Fe International Folk Art Mart. Dorinda Dutcher, June 27, 2016.

Looking Back to 2010

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

Dye Workshop in Huancarani, 2011

This posting reflects back on 2010 which was a roller coaster ride through PAZA´s darkest moments that sowed the seeds of what PAZA is today.

In early 2010, PAZA received a poorly typed letter stating that the gringa should leave Independencia because she was stealing the weaving tradition to take to her country. The author was never publicly identified but a few vocal women rallied to his cause. PAZA began in 2007 as a Peace Corps secondary project. The collaboration with the local government until 2009 made it possible to offer natural dye workshops in 5 rural communities and 2 intensive 3 day natural dye workshops in Independencia.

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

4 of These Weavings Went to France This Month

All local collaboration ended at a town meeting in October 2010 when the few contra-PAZA women who had been elected into positions of political authority stood on the stage shaking their fingers at Doña Maxima and Dorinda. They passionately exclaimed that they knew all that there was to know about traditional weavings and the market, so there was no need for PAZA’s technical assistance. Only the weavers of Doña Maxima´s community of Huancarani stood with PAZA. They are the only rural community of weavers in the area selling their weavings today.

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

Celebrating after Receiving the Official CAH Documents

The Huancarani weavers were going to hold a hunger strike to force local authorities to support PAZA. They were headed off by the Director of a local radio station. He suggested they form a legal weaving association to circumnavigate local politics. That led to 2 years of working through the bureaucratic red tape to form the Centro de Artesanía, Huancarani (CAH). It allows the weavers to seek financial support outside of the politically controlled municipal budget, which they’ve only done once as a training exercise. The members of CAH are responsible for setting the pricing for the weavings at their annual meeting each December. The Spinzilla Spinning competition is CAH´s biggest event of the year.

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Original Chicas, 2 Graduated and are Moms, 1 is Current CdA Chica Trainer

The Club de Chicas was born in 2010 out of the need to provide Doña Máxima with steady work and to help meet PAZA´s and CAH´s objective to preserve the local weaving tradition. The Club began during the school vacation, but when school started the 12 year old chicas didn´t have time to attend. Doña Máxima mentioned that women were interested in joining so several were invited to participate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A few years later the Club name was changed to the Club de Artesanas (CdA). The original chicas learned to weave and were selling the weavings but by the time they turned 16 they had lost interest in the Club and in weaving. Motivating teens to learn how to weave is probably the biggest challenge facing any textile revival project. It is also the key to sustainability of any craft.

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

Katie was the 1st Volunteer and Made Her 4th Trip This Year

The women and chicas are highly skilled in the fiber arts, but have no resources to stretch themselves as artists. The rural communities still don´t have electricity to all homes. There are no magazines or newspapers for sale in Independencia. Few know about the postal service which is only available in the cities. Smart phones and tablets are making the Internet more accessible to youths thanks to data credit packages purchased through the cell phone companies, but the benefits for many adults are limited due to the high rate of illiteracy.

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The Chicas Made Many Skirts Using the Pattern and Method Kelsey Taught Them

The PAZA volunteer program began in 2010 to provide technical assistance. The weavers have learned new fiber arts skills but still have not seen a foreigner weave or spin. For all they know foreigners do need to steal the Andean weaving tradition to learn how to spin and weave.

The CAH members have tossed down the gauntlet asking for a foreigner to join their 2016 Spinzilla team for Spinning Week which will be October 3rd to the 9th. The team has not had any inquiries for what will be an exceptional technical and cultural exchange for a foreign spinner. PAZA also needs a social media coordinator for the week to make the annual video clip.

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

The Chicas Learning to Weave, 2011

Besides providing much needed technical assistance the volunteer program helps offset PAZA expenses. PAZA has no institutional support. Fundraising efforts began in 2010 when Dorinda attended her 1st  Weave a Real Peace (WARP) Conference. PAZA is supported by individuals (mainly women who are weavers) who understand the importance of helping women to help themselves so they can care for their families. Medical costs and school supplies are the two main uses for income generated from the sales of the weavings.

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

All CAH Meeting Minutes Are Signed by All But 1 Member Who Signs with a Thumbprint

In 2010, PAZA sold 250 weavings for a total of $3,464 that went to 55 weavers in 9 communities. Last year PAZA sold 123 weavings for a total of $2,583 that went to 26 weavers of which 24 live in Huancarani or are members of the Club de Artesanas. Thanks to Laverne Waddington’s annual and additional orders and WARP member Susan Weltman’s February visit and order PAZA has already exceeded the 2015 sales by $300.

The saddest thing about the 2010 political brou-ha-ha is that the folly of a few was detrimental to the preservation of the weaving tradition and to all the weavers who could have been earning an income through the years. PAZA hopes that local collaboration will begin anew in the near future. The past years have been well spent training women who can take leadership roles when that day arrives.

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

Prepping Skeins for the Dye Pot, Huancarani

It takes a village…. You don’t have to travel to rural Bolivia to be part of the weavers’ amazing journey. The purchase of the weavings, the gifting of financial support, fundraising assistance, and help to connect with potential volunteers are needed so that in 6 years we can once again look back in amazement of what a collective grass roots effort can achieve. Dorinda Dutcher, May 22, 2016

P.S. I am in the U.S. and am filling weaving orders from the U.S. inventory, please e-mail inquiries to dkdutcher@hotmail.com. Thanks for the words of comfort! My father is hale and hearty following 3 heart procedures and my mother has a new hip. Doña Máxima is doing an excellent job of keeping the CdA running and managing weaving orders in Independencia.

Doña Máxima in Charge

Ah… Technical difficulties, always a learning experience. The April posing is duplicated to connect it to this current blog.

Doña Máxima in Charge

Doña Máxima in Charge

Doña Máxima took over at the helm of PAZA following Easter weekend when Dorinda made a hasty departure from Independencia in response to a family emergency in the U.S. The women of the Club de Artesanas (CdA) will meet once a week at Doña Máxima´s house. The Saturday morning program working with the teen girls will be discontinued until Dorinda´s return in July. The chicas know they can work on their weaving skills during Club days at Doña Máxima´s house.

Thanks to Jenny These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA

Thanks to Jenny These Yoga Mat Straps Found Appreciative Owners in WA

Doña Máxima will open the PAZA store/workshop on Sunday mornings to work with the rural weavers who will be dropping off and picking up orders. Three months was spent in 2009 to simplify an accounting and inventory system that she could manage on her own. Although daunted by the responsibility and amount of money she must account for over the next 3-1/2 months, her body language said she accepted the challenge and she would strive to excel. The weavers have been riding high on the momentum built up thanks to the weaving orders received and completed the past 3 months. The momentum will continue as PAZA uses this opportunity to figure out how to operate if Dorinda needs to spend more time with family in the U.S.

Adviana & Her 3 Kids Enjoy Their 1st Easter Egg Hunt

Adviana & Her 3 Kids Enjoy Their 1st Easter Egg Hunt

Easter weekend went off as planned so Doña Mäxima´s grandchildren who had counted down the days until the Saturday for dyeing Easter eggs were not disappointed. CdA member Adviana was invited to bring her children for their first Easter egg hunt. The prowess of those who had the experience last year was noticeable, but when the hunt was over the kids voluntarily divided up the treats in an equitable manner.

One More Dye Day Is Needed This Month

One More Dye Day Is Needed This Month

On Monday, Dorinda and Doña Máxima discussed what needed to happen over the next few months and figure out a budget. One of the sewing machines, sewing notions, material, and a table were carried up to her house so the CdA women could work on sewing wing notions, material, and a table were carried up to her house so the CdA women could work on sewing projects. Funds were left for the CdA women to buy 5 skeins of yarn for crochet or knitting projects ($7 each). They will need to haul the dye equipment up the hill to Doña Máxima´s house for at least 1 more dye day for the popular cochineal reds.

Spinzilla 2015 Prizes Being Handed Out in Huancarani

Spinzilla 2015 Prizes Being Handed Out in Huancarani

Travel expenses were figured for Doña Máxima to travel to Cochabamba to collect a wire transfer, drop off weavings for travel to the U.S., and to get cost estimates for the petticoat material that the CdA members will sew for the 2016 Spinzilla participants. All win first prize, and the weavers voted on a petticoat as this year’s prize. When Dorinda returns to Independencia in July it will be time for the Spinzilla team registration and putting together a budget for the fundraising effort. Last year $975 was raised almost covering the $1,005 in expenses.

Doña Máxima Weaving 2 Yoga Mat Straps at a Time

Doña Máxima Weaving 2 Yoga Mat Straps at a Time

To complicate Dorinda´s last day in Independencia, a transformer in the neighborhood blew mid-afternoon knocking out electricity on the block. Once the sun set the remaining chores to close down the house and pack were done by the light of 3 candles. It is never easy to leave Independencia, but it is a luxury to spend time in the U.S., and always a pleasure to return to Bolivia.

Thank you Lyn Lucas and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for your ongoing devotion and support of the weavers. Doña Máxima is ready to take on the responsibilities laid on her shoulders, but it has taken all these years of training and experience to set her up for success. Thank you Linda Switzer for your timely help. A huge hug and thank you to Susan Weltman for the donation she sent which is due to her savvy marketing of the weavings. She not only marketed the weavings but came to Bolivia to pick them up!

Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order Last January

Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order Last January

Thanks to Laverne Waddington, an order was received by Dorinda in the U.S., communicated to Doña Máxima in Independencia, and will arrive in the U.S. with the yoga mat straps Dorinda had ordered and originally planned to bring to the U.S. in May.

PAZA Friend Dorothy and Doña Máxima at 2013 Tinkuy

PAZA Friend Dorothy and Doña Máxima at 2013 Tinkuy

The expenses needed to cover Dorinda´s emergency trip and extended U.S. visit would have been difficult to meet without the generosity of family members. Thank you all. Her sincere gratitude goes to Nancy La Scola for the visit and the PAZA support. The past month has been a reality check as to the financial imprudence of 10 years of volunteering. More help is needed in the funding of the PAZA activities. Spinzilla 2016 is rapidly approaching. Looking further ahead the expenses to take 3 weavers to the Tinkuy International Weaving Conference in Cusco in 2017 will need to be met.  Please help by purchasing weavings, making a donation, or helping to get the word out about the volunteer program. Inquiries for purchasing the weavings can be sent to dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

The monthly blog postings will continue and feature photos and tales from the past that disappeared into a black hole in cyberspace along with the original blog site in 2013. Dorinda Dutcher, April 20, 2016

March, Dye Month

Doña Máxima Commented on How She Would Color Coordinate the Zinnias if She Could Weave with Them

Doña Máxima Commented on How She Would Color Coordinate the Zinnias if She Could Weave with Them

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) dye pots have bubbled and boiled weekly. The Huancarani weavers who visited the PAZA workshop on Sundays and saw the results hanging to dry began dropping off their handspun skeins for the Club to dye. PAZA dyes a skein in every dye pot to provide the Huancarani weavers the option of purchasing dyed skeins. The handspun yarn from local wool is purchased at $10 kilo, usually from elders who are no longer weaving. The price is not marked up by PAZA, but 28 cents is added for each skein dyed.

The Huancarani Weavers Selecting Handspun Natural Dyed Yarn for Their Weavings

The Huancarani Weavers Selecting Handspun Natural Dyed Yarn for Their Weavings

One Sunday, Doña Justina picked up her payment for the aguayo purchased by Katie Simmons and immediately invested 10% of it into the dyed skeins. Her purchase sparked a shopping frenzy, and all the Huancarani weavers left with a few purchases. There has been a striking improvement in the color coordination of the yoga mat straps, which has been the weaving focus over the past few months. The weavers are definitely having fun playing with the rich cochineal reds and earthy hues.

CdA Chicas Shopping for Yarn for Crochet Projects

CdA Chicas Shopping for Yarn for Crochet Projects

The new CdA Saturday session of teen girls began early in the month with 3 returning members. Four more joined by the end of the month. Gabriela Acosta, a high school senior, who was a member in 2011 and 2012 was hired as the trainer. Of the 6 chicas, 3 do not have mothers, so hopefully the CdA activities will encourage skill development they would have learned from their mothers. All expressed an interest in crochet projects and in learning how to sew. Time will be spent as needed to go over English homework. All the chicas speak Spanish and Quechua, so with some help working on verbal skills, some may advance quickly with English.

1st CdA Chicas Workshop 2016, Making Paper

1st CdA Chicas Workshop 2016, Making Paper

Doña Maxima is reserving Tuesday afternoons for teaching weaving. The CdA chicas or other women and/or chicas with an interest in learning to weave to sell are welcome to attend. PAZA will provide the yarn for the classes and for the first yoga mat strap a new weaver sells.

The President of the Women´s Organization of the rural community of Link´u had visited a few months ago to deliver a written request for baking and natural dye workshops in Link´u. Doña Máxima and Dorinda provided numerous dye workshops in that community in 2008 to 2010. Dorinda hitchhiked on Fridays for 3 months with bags and a backpack of supplies to teach baking workshops in 2009. There were no sustainable results for those expenses and efforts.

Headed to Natural Dye Workshop in Linku, 2008

Headed to Natural Dye Workshop in Linku, 2008

When the Link´u representative returned to set a date for a workshop, Doña Maxima was ready with an option. PAZA does not have funding for transportation so cannot offer workshops in rural communities. However, a community representative would be welcome to attend CdA workshops which will be geared to train her as the local trainer for her community for dyeing and/or baking.

Three Link´u weavers who had sold through PAZA until local politics got in the way would like to sell again. PAZA offered to dye skeins for them during CdA dye days at no charge to get them started. Each weaver will need to work with Doña Máxima to get up to speed on weaving to specifications. She will also help them warp their first orders. They will be thrilled with the pricing for the yoga mat straps, which is more than they made for a ch’uspa (shoulder bag) 6 years ago.

Vilma Earns Income Weaving and Sewing the Yoga Mat Straps in the PAZA Workshop

Vilma Earns Income Weaving and Sewing the Yoga Mat Straps in the PAZA Workshop

Dorinda will be traveling to the U.S. in May. Please send an e-mail if you would like to place an order for yoga mat straps, ch´uspas, zippered bags, or a specific sized weaving. Time is running out….. dkdutcher@hotmail.com.

PAZA recently replaced a domestic sewing machine for the CdA women and chicas, which cost $120. The fundraising appeal sent out earlier in the year resulted in only $400 of donations, so the operating fund is dwindling. Please consider a monetary gift to help women and teens to help themselves. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, March 22, 2016

Festivities and Visitors

2016 Carnaval in Independencia

2016 Carnaval in Independencia

The month of February flew by due to the week-long Carnaval festivities. Visitors Katie Simmons and Chris McNulty arrived in time for Independencia’s Carnaval parade. Local communities competed for the 5 cash prizes awarded for the best traditional dress, music, and dance during their 20 minute performance in the plaza. Spectators kept one eye on the dancing and one eye on the lookout for incoming water balloons. The dancers were prey to the water balloons, water guns, buckets of water refilled from the plaza fountain, and foam from spray cans. The muddy and slippery streets made for treacherous footing. The spectators were attired in raincoats or covered with sheets of blue plastic that sell for $1.00 per meter and effectively warded off the rain and wetting from the water balloons.

Doña Antonia Adding Potatoes to the Copper Pot

Doña Antonia Adding Potatoes to the Copper Pot

The following day Katie, Chris, and Dorinda chartered a truck for the trip to the Carnaval fiesta in Huancarani. It was Doña Máxima’s finale as wife of the mayor of Huancarani, and an end to the year-long responsibilities and expenses. Two of her sisters and her daughter had arrived from Cochabamba to help with the cooking to feast the community for 3 days. Her oldest daughter and 2 eldest sons were also lending a hand. Her youngest son spent the day lobbing water balloons at other

Raising the Carnaval Banner

Raising the Carnaval Banner

youths. Weaver Doña Alicia was among the women peeling a mountain of potatoes. Later she told Doña Máxima that although her family is Evangelic Christians and don´t participate in events serving chicha, she came to help as a way to repay Doña Maxima´s guidance in improving the color combinations of her weavings. Doña Máxima and family looked on the verge of collapse, and she admitted to not having much sleep for two weeks. The chicha (fermented corn beverage) preparation the week before had involved a couple of long nights of stirring the corn mash mixture.

Doña Máxima Adorning Katie with Streamers

Doña Máxima Adorning Katie with Streamers

Two meals were served before the music and dancing started in the late afternoon. Six sheep had been butchered and the meat was boiled in a huge copper pot heated with firewood. Many women of the community had arrived early to peel that mountain of potatoes that were boiled in the adjoining copper pot. The Organization of Men´s Clubhouse had been turned into an indoor kitchen, serving area, and dormitory. While the women cooked the men drank chicha and held a ceremony prior to raising the Carnaval banner.

Katie Dancing with Doña Maxima´s Granddaughter, Emily

Katie Dancing with Doña Maxima´s Granddaughter, Emily

The women and girls were in a mix of western wear and polleras (skirts), although many who prefer western wear had donned a pollera for the dancing. Katie was outfitted with one of the bayeta (loosely woven wool cloth) polleras Doña Máxima had made for Carnaval. Dorinda wore the bayeta pollera that was made by CdA members and dyed with cochineal during a Club dye day. In the midafternoon residents from the city with roots in Huancarani began arriving. The teens brought water balloons and spray foam. One weaver commented that she didn´t want her woven aguayo hit with either. The music began long before the dancing, and many a young man from the city picked up a drum or pipe. All were in western wear. Culture is dynamic, what will the young retain and what will they abandon?

Annie and the CdA Weavers

Annie and the CdA Weavers

Street life in Independencia returned to normal the week after Carnaval which also marked the beginning of the school year. The Club de Artesanas (CdA) began a new session for the women on Tuesday the 16th. Sixteen year old Gregoria, a single mom, is trying out the Club because she is motivated to learn how to weave so she can care for her daughter. She and Annie Trowbridge, a PAZA volunteer began learning how to weave figures under Doña Máxima´s tutelage. Annie taught a drawing class which engrossed the women once they got over their initial reticence.

Laverne´s 2016 Order

Laverne´s 2016 Order

February was the all-time record month for sales since PAZA began in 2007. Thanks to Laverne Waddington´s annual faja order and the yoga mat strap orders for Susan Weltman,  Jenny Heard, and Mary Ann Zelinsky plus the purchases made by Katie and Chris the weavers are smiling instead of stressing out over how they are going to pay for school supplies and uniforms this year. Katie is the proud owner of the natural dyed aguayo woven by Doña Justina a few months ago. She also bought 3 of Doña Eulalia´s

Sampling of Susan´s Yoga Mat Strap Order

Sampling of Susan´s Yoga Mat Strap Order

weavings. Doña Eulalia is the most photogenic of the weavers because she normally sports a beautiful smile. She arrived at the store in panic mode yesterday clutching the lists of school supplies for her sons. The worry lines and tension visually melted when she was handed a payment envelope. The heartfelt “thank yous” went on until she flashed her signature smile and was out the door and on her way to the shops. Thank you Lyn Lucas, Laura Dutcher, and Dorothy Thursby-Stern for helping to make PAZA´s slow but steady progress possible! Dorinda Dutcher, February 22, 2016

Sleepy January

¡Happy Birthday, Don Jorge!

¡Happy Birthday, Don Jorge!

The Club de Artesanas (CdA) held the Fiesta de Don Jorge on January 12th to liven up the month. Most CdA members had fled to the city or rural communities for this last month of the school vacation, so the few members in town brought all their kids or siblings. Eight year old Zuni and 10 year old Veronica made a lime cake and a chocolate cake so that the end result would be a 4 layer cake of alternating flavors. While the cake baked they moved into the biblioteca (library) to join the other kids in making masks, crowns, and sombreros locos for the “Grand March”. The teen chicos who have participated for 4 years weren´t sure if it was cool but couldn´t resist the lure of Pique Macho for lunch and in no time they´d joined into the spirit of the party.

Prepping Pique Macho

Prepping Pique Macho

According to the story in Emilia Romero´s cookbook, “Cocina Tradicional Boliviana” the origin of Pique Macho began late 1 night when a woman was awaken from a sound sleep to prepare food for her husband and his friends who´d been out on the town. Fuming she cooked with what was on hand and piled high a platter with French fries, sauced meat, chorizo sausage, onion and tomato slices, and swirled ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise over all. She then added a thick layer of fresh hot chili pepper slices. She slapped the platter down in front of the men saying, “Piquen (nibble/snack) now and we´ll see if you´re Macho”. Obviously, it´s a hugely popular dish, but it is a lot of

Fries Over Fire

Fries Over Fire

work. Doña Máxima insisted that the best way to cook the fries was outside on the firewood grill. They were heavenly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The kids loved garnishing their own plates from the assortment of condiments.

Games were played between lunch and cake, and although they´re always the same the enjoyment never seems to lessen. There were prizes of school supplies and toothbrushes for all. The great thing about the party is that half of the party and fun is in the joint preparation which makes hosting easy. Don Jorge is Dorinda´s dad, and he receives photos and birthday wishes in time for his February birthday.

Doña Verna Watching Doñas Maxima and Antonia Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order

Doña Verna Watching Doñas Maxima and Antonia Warping a Faja for Laverne´s Order

The weavers are working on 2 orders which has never happened before. Laverne Waddington who has been a strong supporter of PAZA since meeting Dorinda and Doña Maxima at the 2010 Tinkuy had placed her annual order for the fajas that she uses in her weaving workshops. Her specifications are exacting and her orders have proven to be a great teaching and learning tool for helping the weavers weave to specifications, which is a requirement for selling to a foreign market. Unfortunately there is no national market for the traditional textiles.

Susan Weltman, a WARP friend, took up the gauntlet to sell the yoga mat straps and she will be picking up her order in Independencia next month. Doña Verna who recently resettled in Huancarani said she´d forgotten how to weave after living in the city for 7 years. The orders motivated her to sit down at her loom and she´s working on her 4th yoga mat strap. Fifteen year old Dania who was taught to weave by her grandmother during the vacation has sold 4 and plans to finish 2 more before school

CdA Dye Day Results

CdA Dye Day Results

starts. Hopefully, she will encourage her peers to learn to weave. It´s a wonderful thing to see the weavers so lively and animated when they stop by the PAZA workshop on Sundays to drop off their orders, pick up payments and discover there is another order. This is the time of year mothers are in panic mode trying to figure out where the cash will come from to pay for school supplies and uniforms.

Scooping up Chicha Vinegar for the Dye Pots

Scooping up Chicha Vinegar for the Dye Pots

Two CdA days were spent dyeing skeins because of the request for cochineal red. A few weavers had left skeins to be dyed and others asked to buy dyed skeins from PAZA. Citric acid was used with the cochineal on the first dye day so that orange tones were achieved. Suyku leaves were ready for harvest and gathered for the first time in almost a year to produce green dye baths during the 2nd dye day. The mordant for the cochineal pot was alum with cream of tartar as an assistant to produce pinks. All that was added to the final dye bath was vinegar from chicha (fermented corn beverage) that had turned. Doña Antonia had a 55 gallon barrel of bubbling vinegar leftover from her daughter´s graduation party.

Although not much was happening in Independencia all month, PAZA had a productive month thanks to the orders from Laverne, Susan, Jenny, and Mary Ann. Thanks to Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby-Stern, Susan Long and Laura Dutcher who are long term devoted supporters PAZA can continue to help the weavers help themselves. Dorinda Dutcher, January 25, 2016

Winding Up the School Year

Princess Dresses, Caps, and Capes for Kindergarten Graduation

Princess Dresses, Caps, and Capes for Kindergarten Graduation

November has swung between frenzied activity and lazy days for the Club de Artesansas (CdA). CdA members who have kids in grade school spent Club time embroidering flowers on squares of cloth for their children to turn in for the annual exposition and a grade. The graduating teens spent hours at the sewing machines whipping together blouses and dresses for their classroom exposition. The 2 CdA moms with graduating kindergarteners helped their kids change clothes 3 times during the 2 hour ceremony which involved traditional dances and pomp and circumstance.

Sheep and Dancers Making an Entrance for the "Ovejeras" Dance

Sheep and Dancers Making an Entrance for the “Ovejeras” Dance

Formal classroom instruction ended and the week and a half long expositions began on November 16th. The grade school physical education/music exposition was open to the public and the mix of gymnastics and traditional dances was a treat. The highlight was the “Ovejera” (Sheepherder) dance which involved the 3rd graders trying to make an entrance with sheep in their arms or on a lead. The sheep on a lead wanted no part of it, much to the amusement of the audience. The music teacher finally gave the command to let go of the sheep so that the dance could commence. The sheep didn´t run far being enticed to graze on the sweet clover covering the soccer field. The 2nd graders mime to a song about elderly couples was poignant.

Group Photo of the 2nd Graders as Grandparents

Group Photo of the 2nd Graders as Grandparents

Reyna, who is the CdA Saturday trainer working with the teenagers, and a peer who is a former CdA member asked if they could learn how to make soap for their senior exposition project. There wasn´t time to make the basic soap recipe which is fat, lye, and water, but they did make 2 batches of milled soap from the basic soap the CdA women had made a couple months ago. They returned the soap making equipment after the expo wearing huge smiles because they´d received a “Super-Bien” from their teacher. We may see their teacher next year for a soap making workshop.

Doña Máxima Stitching the 2 Halves of the Aguayo Together

Doña Máxima Stitching the 2 Halves of the Aguayo Together

Doña Máxima has completed the 2 weavings for her 2nd aguayo for February’s Carnaval festivities. She spent a quiet CdA day hand sewing the 2 halves together with a decorative stitch. Her current project is a weaving ordered by PAZA which she will use as the final weaving project for CdA members during the Club´s vacation session. The CdA members that advance to the 3rd project will use a length of Doña Máxima´s weaving to make a ch´uspita (shoulder bag). They will weave the strap and learn how to weave a border to assemble the bag. Hopefully pride in the ch´uspitas will encourage the CdA members to advance to the next step, which is learning to weave on the rustic loom and selling those weavings.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

The yoga mat straps are the ideal weaving for beginners to weave and to be able to sell. The weavers learn a variety of figures which helps preserve the Andean weaving tradition that is not documented on paper since the master weavers are elderly and were born into a world where girls weren´t educated. The yoga mat straps are narrow, so advance quickly, and the pricing of $15.85 for the weaver is motivating. The assembly of the yoga mat straps provides a payment to Vilma, a CdA member who does the sewing. It seems like the ideal yoga mat strap for a socially conscious yoga practitioner, so why oh why can´t we get them into that niche market? The 2015 wholesale price is $20. It is generating income that will motivate the younger generations to learn the Andean style of weaving. ¡Help!

Vilma and Doña Máxima Plying Yarn for Their Next Weaving Projects

Vilma and Doña Máxima Plying Yarn for Their Next Weaving Projects

One Sunday morning Doña Máxima and her daughter Vilma sat on the stoop plying yarn while waiting to see if any Huancarani weavers would drop by the PAZA workshop/store. Doña Máxima was plying local wool she´d handspun during the Spinzilla spinning week and dyed with cochineal. It will be used on a PAZA weaving order. Vilma was plying neon pink synthetic yarn which will go into the aguayo she plans to weave for Carnaval so she can learn the embedded double weave technique.

The CdA vacation session begins next week and will include activities to cater to the mix of women, teens, and kids. Thank you Lyn Lucas, Dorothy Thursby-Stern, and Nancy Meffe for your continuing support that allows PAZA to work locally through the CdA and in outreach to the rural weavers day by day and week after week…. Dorinda Dutcher, November 25, 2015

Spinzilla 2015 is Over, Now What?

Vilma Collecting Molle Leaves for the Dye Pot

Vilma Collecting Molle Leaves for the Dye Pot

October was a month to remember! The 25 spinners on the Cloth Road’s Warmis Phuskadoras team spun a whopping 68,511 yards during Spinzilla Spinning Week, all on drop spindles. The team ranked 24th out of the 64 teams, which put Bolivia in 4th place out of the 14 countries represented.

Thanks again to all the well-wishers who helped make it possible for the women to participate. The support and words of good cheer helped them to begin to understand that they are part of a bigger world of spinners. Cloth Roads has enthusiastically agreed to sponsor the team for Spinzilla 2016 and the women are already talking about how to spin more during next year’s competition.

Prepping Sumakaya Bark

Prepping Sumakaya Bark

What will they do with the 68,511 yards of yarn you may wonder? All the women are weavers, and the spinning is just 1 step in their ancient weaving tradition they learned as girls. The yarn will be wound into skeins, washed, dyed, washed, plyed, warped, and finally woven. The weavings could be for home and farm use, cultural celebrations, or PAZA orders which help the women to generate the income they need to meet the basic needs for their families.

Winding Skeins

Winding Skeins

When the hoopla of Spinzilla dyed down the spinners in the Club de Artesanas (CdA) were ready to start dyeing. On Tuesday they collected and prepped sumakaya bark and molle leaves and spent all day Thursday dyeing. Unfortunately, the molle leaves which produce a bright yellow dye produced nothing. The notes from past dye workshops were reviewed and showed successful dye pots in August, so no bright yellow until next year. A cochineal dye bath replaced the molle pot on the 2 burner dye stove with alum added to produce pink tones. Adding a mordant to a cochineal dye bath never ceases to arouse murmurs of awe from those around the dye pot. Two weavers from rural communities had sent in skeins with requests for the colors they needed which helped the CdA members plan Thursday´s dye day.

Dye Day Results

Dye Day Results

The simplicity of the rustic loom set-up allows weavers to have more than 1 weaving in progress. Last week, Doña Máxima rolled up the aguayo half which was ¾ of the way woven and set it aside. She replaced it with a warp for a PAZA order. The aguayo is being woven for Carnaval in February. The weaving for the PAZA order helped her meet unexpected costs related to her son´s upcoming graduation from a 2 year accounting program in Cochabamba. She commented on how much easier it is to weave with the smooth synthetic yarn used in the aguayo as compared to the physical strength needed to beat down the warp of the nubby natural dyed wool.

The CdA Chicas with Their Drawings

The CdA Chicas with Their Drawings

Her weaving for the PAZA order will be used to make prototypes of a clutch and an organizer bag, which will be paired with leather. PAZA has worked with a leather store in Cochabamba for 4 years to produce the guitar straps, belts, wallets, keyrings, camera straps, and a few bags each year. Thanks to a new Cochabamba connection, PAZA will leave the higher end leather products on consignment in their shop in hopes of sales to keep orders going to the weavers.

Decorating Halloween Cookies

Decorating Halloween Cookies

The CdA chicas continue to meet on Saturday mornings, and have branched out from just crocheting. They tried their hand at soap making and spent another day drawing, in which they were so utterly engrossed they had to be asked 3 times to take a break for tea and peanut coconut cookies. The fruits of their labor adorn the walls of PAZA´s library. Halloween, which is not celebrated in Independencia, fell on a Saturday and the chicas got a charge our of wielding the cookie cutters shaped liked witches, pumpkins, cats, and bats and decorating the baked cookies with colored royal icing. It was good practice for the upcoming holiday baking extravaganza when enough cookies will be baked and decorated for all the CdA members to take a bag home to share with their families.

A hug and thank you to Lyn Lucas whose long-term support has helped keep PAZA chugging along week after week with the mundane as well as the dramatic. Dorinda Dutcher, November 1, 2015